Saturday, April 17, 2010

Prop8, the lesbian bishop, and marriage

There's an interesting Newsweek story on Mary Glasspool, and the relative calm (comparatively speaking) surrounding her election. It concludes,
The defiant moment may be yet to come. For if California reverses Proposition 8 and relegalizes gay marriage, then Glasspool faces a decision: does she marry Becki Sander, her partner of 22 years, and become a living symbol of a controversial debate? Or does she continue to duck the news glare and remain as she is, contentedly cohabitating? I'd like to think her father, were he alive, would assert the Traditional (capital T, please) importance of marriage—and uncomfortably, but proudly, walk his middle-aged daughter down the aisle.
To me, this is a no-brainer, because this is the decision BP and I faced. It in no way slights the years of our relationship and the commitment we felt prior to 2008 to say that we married when it became legal. To me, if marriage is legal, not marrying would be an active choice. To CHOOSE not to be married, knowing what meaning marriage carries, is to CHOOSE a different kind of relationship . I have no problem with people cohabiting, but if you want your relationship to be viewed as a marriage, then you have to marry when it becomes possible: when it becomes a choice.

A friend of a friend was exploring whether or not he had a calling to enter seminary to study for the rabbinate. He was told that he should have married in the California Interregnum. That his partner of many years was (and is) another man made no difference to the seminary: the expectation is that clergy should be married! I don't think TEC would approve of a straight clergy person cohabiting sans marriage.

When Prop8 is repealed (as it will be sooner or later), I would have no problem with the expectation that long term GLBT couples are expected to marry. And as same sex blessings become legal in the Episcopal church, it makes sense to me that there is an expectation that the couple will be civilly "legalized" as soon as that becomes a possibility in their home jurisdiction. If we want true equality, that means equality of responsbilities and expectations as well as benefits.


Erp said...

I guess one key point is will the wedding take place in a church and how big an event is a bishop's wedding? However given that they probably consider themselves married in the eyes of God for years even if not in the eyes of the law, they would probably go for a small ceremony.

JCF said...

I totally agree, IT (and thought that conclusion to the Newsweek story on (+)Glasspool was strange).

At the same time, it IS a personal decision. Rachel Maddow, for example, celebrates the right to marry . . . a right she and her longtime/live-in gf in Massachusetts have not availed themselves of.

Without naming names, there's a Calilfornia
Episcopal blogger whose marital status I'm not sure of (I do understand in California, however, that there were some in CA who were advised that, for legal reasons, marrying in '08---w/ PropH8 hanging over their heads---wasn't wise.)

At some point, however, I agree that TEC should institute the SAME policy for same-sex couples, re marriage, as different-sex couples.

IT said...

Well, it is true that being-married-but-not, which is the legal status of us Gay married Californians, is legally complicated and expensive. Many attorneys advised clients to wait till it meant something "real" federally speaking.

But I'm so glad we ignored that ....

Grandmère Mimi said...

I thought the question posed by the reporter was silly. Why would Mary Glasspool's marriage be defiant?

Erp said...

Well they might send an invitation to the ABC....

More seriously it wouldn't be defiant by many people's standards but it would be so seen as such by some of those who consider themselves keepers of the tabernacle known as the Anglican Communion.

IT said...

I agree, Mimi, it would be the opposite of defiant: it's a conservative choice!

Grandmère Mimi said...

I'd think that if marriage between same-sex couples became legal again in California, that Mary and Becki would have no option but to marry.

...the expectation is that clergy should be married!


Lisa Fox said...

I'll not presume to dictate anyone's decision, but I agree with you, I.T.: When gay marriage is legal, surely no partnered gay/lesbian person would be ordained or consecrated without being married.

However, there is that weird "gray area." For example, what about states in which it's legal, but one's diocese doesn't permit the blessing in church? Conversely, what about dioceses which permit blessings, but in which the state doesn't recognize it as "legal"?

JCF said...

Heh-heh: IT, I just caught your typo at the top of this entry:

There's an interesting Newsweek story on Marry Glasspool

I guess you're one marriage-minded Gay Married Californian, IT, who'd like to see the Suffragan Bishop-Elect become another? ;-)

IT said...

ha! good catch!

dr.primrose said...

Gay and lesbian couples needs to be cut some slack for awhile on this issue, I think.

The legal issues connected with being married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage where most states and the federal government do not are signficant and quite uncertain. Some couples get few of the benefits of marriage but a lot of the burdens. For example, same-sex couples get no federal social security or pension benefits but become personally responsible for the debts of their spouses. For some couples, getting married can end up being a lose-lose situation.

That was particularly true in California where the threat of the repeal of same-sex marriage existed during the whole time it was permitted. No one knew what would happen to the marriages conducted during that time if the Prop. 8 passed. The California Supreme Court eventually upheld their legality -- but that was by no means certain.

Moreover, the fact that Prop. 8 gets repealed does not mean that the issue will not be back on the ballot again. It's certainly possible that the repeal of Prop. 8 could be repealed. All those folks have to do is get a repeal of the repeal on the ballot on an off-off election (some years we have elections two or three times) when younger people are less likely to vote and get out the RCC and Mormon vote out, and the repeal of Prop. 8 could be down the toilet.

I know of one highly respected attorney in the L.A. area who does a lot of work in this area strongly recommended not getting married during this time because of the massive legal uncertainties.

This a decision that every same-sex couple has to make on their own, hopefully knowing the risks involved in whichever decision they make.

Forcing same-sex couples to get married under these circumstances at this time, until the legal issues get clearer, is simply wrong.

IT said...

I agree that in CA especially we are particularly vulnerable. BP and I are paying for it, quite literally. So I fully understand that not everyone felt it was appropriate to avail themselves of this uncertain status at the time.

But I was thinking more in the "eventually" category, rather than in the current complications. Because eventually it WILL be legal, and then, I think, it is fair to expect GLBT couples to abide by the same rules as straight couples.

In the meantime, it would not be amiss to expect couples to DP, een thought that is also a situation fraught with uncertainty, and cost (given no federal recognition).

At some level we DO have to pay for being the first. Because if we don't nothing will ever change.

JCF said...

At some level we DO have to pay for being the first. Because if we don't nothing will ever change.

And BRAVA to you and BP for doing so, IT! :-D

Grandmère Mimi said...

Sadly, it is true that those who go first usually pay a price, but if too many hesitate and don't take the step forward, then progress will be slower.

As JCF said, "BRAVA to you and BP for doing so, IT!"

Jim Pratt said...

A little Canadian perspective:

Here in the Diocese of Montreal, the (unwritten) policy is that clergy living with someone in a rectory must be married, but there is no looking into the bedrooms of clergy who live in their own houses or apartments, whether straight or gay.

Since a couple years ago, when the bishop dismissed an objection based on the living arrangements of an ordinand to the vocational diaconate, there has been no fuss.

But the legal environment is quite different from CA. Same-sex marriage is universally recognized, and for federal purposes and in every province except Quebec, co-habiting partners are recognized as common-law spouses.

dr.primrose said...

"Ultimately," I agree with you IT. Same rules for everyone when the same circumstances exist for everyone. But that's not where we are now.

My apologies if I come across too strident. I know I'm reacting to some of those somewhat sanctimonious comments on some of "those sites" (and some of ours, too) about putting the cart before the horse in the case of Mary (and Gene) -- there shouldn't be ordination of same-sex bishops until there's same-sex marriage.

I find it hypocritical and simply delay, delay, delay, delay ...

Erika Baker said...

"there shouldn't be ordination of same-sex bishops until there's same-sex marriage."

Obviously, because when the US Administration changes its mind about same sex marriage God will change his too and all conservative objections will disappear.....